Background: In March-April 2021, OCTO collaborated with the UN Environment Programme, the University of Queensland, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, and other partners to survey marine conservation and management practitioners about tools and learning resources they would recommend for climate change and marine protected areas (MPAs). Initial results were sent to the online MPA Help discussion list in November 2021. Community members recommended a number of additional resources. This updated compilation provides results from the initial survey as well as MPA Help community members.

MPAs and MPA networks interact with climate change in many ways. Sites and networks can:

This compilation brings together tools that can actively guide MPA personnel through some aspect of planning and managing for climate change (e.g., the actions listed above). We have attempted to list only resources that provide templates or science-based, interactive tools that use local parameters as inputs and are usable regionally or globally.


Tools, guides, and methodologies for guiding MPA climate change adaptation and mitigation

Tool: Adaptation Design Tool: Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning (2017)
Provider: Climate Change Working Group of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force
Description: The tool helps coral reef managers incorporate climate change adaptation into coral reef management plans by considering the effects of climate change on ecosystem stressors and implications for effective management. The tool can help modify existing planned actions as well as guide development of additional strategies. The tool includes worksheets, instructions, and examples as well as information on expanded considerations, resources, and lessons learned to support managers in using the tool.
For more information:

  • An online course on using the tool, developed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, is available here.
  • Fillable versions of the tool’s worksheets are available for download here.

Methodology: Climate Adaptation Methodology for Protected Areas (CAMPA): Coastal and Marine (2016)
Provider: WWF
Description: The manual describes an approach for developing climate adaptation measures in coastal and marine protected areas. It utilizes a series of worksheets and can be applied in a detailed, data-driven process that will take some time or a shorter, quicker but less rigorous assessment to help make basic decisions about management. CAMPA walks users through identifying ecological, ecosystem service, and socio-economic targets; collating information on baseline conditions; assessing vulnerability of the protected area; developing scenarios of likely changes as a result of threats; and validating vulnerability assessment results with stakeholders. The end result is the identification of potential impacts and prioritization of possible adaptation actions to address these impacts. A final section provides guidance on implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and adaptive management.

Toolkit: Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (2019-2021)
Provider: EcoAdapt
Description: The toolkit was created to make climate adaptation planning a simple, direct, and feasible process for MPA managers. It contains 1) a step-by-step guide to undertaking a rapid vulnerability assessment for marine and coastal areas (the North American Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool, described below); 2) structured and searchable adaptation strategies in a library of over 130 actions organized by habitat type and climate impact; 3) foundational resources; and 4) a list of selected expert climate change adaptation practitioners who can be contacted for questions or guidance. Resources are available in English and Spanish. The Toolkit is housed within the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKEx.org) for easy access to related case studies, reports, and other resources.
For more information:

  • View a 2019 overview webinar on the toolkit.
  • Updates to the MPA Toolkit include a companion training module which takes users through a basic process of climate adaptation planning using the materials available in the toolkit, a new Spanish-language area, and a series of briefs demonstrating how different adaptation strategies reduce vulnerabilities to key climate stressors as well as case studies where these strategies have been implemented.

Tool: Climate Vulnerability Index (2018)
Provider: James Cook University/IUCN
Description: The Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) is based on an established IPCC framework to systematically assess vulnerability through a risk assessment approach that considers the key values of a natural and/or cultural site and identifies key climate stressors. The CVI process is then used to assess the climate-related vulnerability of the community (including local residents, domestic visitors, and international tourists) associated with the site considering economic, social, and cultural connections. The process is conducted through a workshop of diverse participants using a customized worksheet. CVI was originally developed for World Heritage properties but is now being modified for other protected areas.
For more information:

Guide: Designing Effective Locally Managed Areas in Tropical Marine Environments: A Facilitator’s Guide to Help Sustain Community Benefits Through Management for Fisheries, Ecosystems, and Climate Change (2013)
Provider: USAID Coral Triangle Support Partnership
Description: This guide uses the latest scientific recommendations combined with local and traditional knowledge to maximize the ability of Locally Managed Areas (LMAs) to support resilience to climate change and other threats. The guide provides templates and detailed instructions for facilitation of community processes for LMAs including: 1) outreach to understand key ecological and social factors that contribute to healthy and abundant resources, and the latest science-based recommendations for managing resources so they are healthy, abundant, and resilient; and 2) planning steps to develop zones and rules for LMAs that help build long-term healthy, abundant, and resilient coastal and marine resources. This facilitator’s guide is designed for use by small planning teams consisting of people from communities, agencies, and organizations that normally facilitate stakeholders through community-based planning and implementation processes.
For more information:

  • A complimentary booklet, developed to share directly with community members and stakeholders, provides the same illustrations, key messages, and zoning and rule recommendations as the facilitator’s guide but omits detailed facilitation instructions.
  • The scientific basis for the approach (relevant scientific literature and 15 biophysical principles for MPA network design) is described in full in this technical report.
  • The scientific basis for the approach is summarized in a graphical format for field practitioners in this guide.

Guide: Guide for Planners and Managers to Design Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate (2012)
Provider: Commission for Environmental Cooperation
Description: This guide for MPA program and network planners and managers provides sequential steps for meeting four climate change goals (“guidelines”). Overviews, methods, practical considerations, products, and resources are described for each step, and estimates of costs and level of effort for carrying out the steps are also provided. The four overarching guidelines are described more fully in Scientific Guidelines for Designing Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks in a Changing Climate (2012, see below). The guide is available in English, French, and Spanish.
For more information:

Tool: Local Early Action Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (LEAP, updated 2016)
Provider: Micronesia Conservation Trust and partners (see a full list of contributors here)
Description: The Local Early Action Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (LEAP) tool can help MPAs work with local communities to conduct vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning. The process helps communities assess and map future climate scenarios and how natural resources and community members are vulnerable to potential social, economic, and ecological changes. The result of this process is a simple document that communities can use to start addressing existing threats and potential impacts from climate change. The primary requirement for using LEAP is an ability to facilitate a participatory process with the community. Little technical ability is needed.
For more information:

  • A version of LEAP developed for the Caribbean can be accessed here.
  • A video library to help with LEAP implementation is available here.

Guide: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and climate change: A guide to regional monitoring and adaptation opportunities (2013)
Provider: IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, UNEP/MAP-SPA/RAC
Description: This document provides guidance on how to measure the impact of climate change on MPA biodiversity and improve planning for the mitigation of future impact. Several monitoring plans and indicators for different circumstances and management objectives are outlined.

Protocols: Monitoring climate-related responses in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and beyond: Five standard protocols (2020)
Provider: Interreg MED Program
Description: These protocols provide practical guidance for tracking climate-related impacts in Mediterranean MPAs and beyond. Topics include using local ecological knowledge to reconstruct historical change BS monitoring rocky benthic habitat, seagrass habitat, and seascapes. An e-learning unit illustrates rationales, field operations, data treatment, and information sharing approaches for these monitoring protocols. A ready-to-use monitoring toolkit provides video tutorials, presentations, standard protocols, and files for data inputs.
For more information:

Tool: MPA Resilience Self Assessment Tool v1 (R-SAT; 2020)
Provider: Ocean Governance Project
Description: The MPA Resilience Self Assessment Tool (R-SAT) helps MPA managers better understand and prepare for emerging threats and change due to external stressors. The tool helps MPAs assess weaknesses and determine priority elements that should be integrated into their resilience-oriented management activities and plans. In situations where relevant data is limited, MPA managers can take a collaborative approach in which they define the data needed to answer the main evaluative questions and work with partners and stakeholders from a range of disciplines and institutions to produce this data. R-SAT is an online tool where users answer multiple choice questions. An Excel spreadsheet is available to record answers before they are transferred online to avoid losing work due to poor quality internet connections. A demonstration version helps new users understand how the tool works. An assessment takes 1-2 hours to complete, and the tool is available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
For more information:

Tool: North American Marine Protected Area Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool (2017)
Provider: Commission for Environmental Cooperation
Description: The tool helps MPA managers evaluate how climate change may affect their site’s habitats and develop adaptation strategies. It has three parts – a user guide, blank worksheets, and a booklet containing sample completed worksheets. The blank worksheets are in a dynamic PDF format so that users can easily complete, save, and share their results. The assessment is designed to be completed individually or in a one- or two-day group workshop. The tool is the foundation of the Climate Adaptation Toolkit for Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (described above) and is available in English, French, and Spanish.
For more information:

Storymap: Ocean Climate Storymap (2019)
Provider: Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Description: The Ocean Climate Program Storymap is an interactive tool developed as an outreach and education piece for partners and the general public. This tool introduces the vision, mission, and accomplishments of the program, highlights the significant projects, products, and data from the program’s inception in 2008 through 2019, presents the Program’s national and international work as an ONMS Center for Collaboration, and provides guidance to MPA managers interested in addressing climate change at their sites. The Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) section lists tools and resources critical for every step of the climate adaptation cycle.

Toolkit: Reef Resilience Toolkit
Provider: The Nature Conservancy, Reef Resilience Network
Description: The toolkit provides information and resources for improving coral reef health, restoring reef fisheries, and conducting community-based climate adaptation. The toolkit contains synthesized information on science and management tools and techniques, searchable summaries of journal articles about reef resilience science, and case studies of successful management strategies.

Project partners would like to thank respondents to our March-April 2021 survey and MPA/climate experts Jon Day of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Sara Hutto of NOAA, Meghan Gombos of SeaChange Consulting, Eric Mielbrecht of EcoAdapt, Jean-Jacques Goussard, Souha El Asmi of Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Center (SPA/RAC), Pierre Vignes of MedPAN, Alan White of the USAID SEA Project of Tetra Tech Indonesia, Alexander Belokurov formerly of WWF, and Emma Doyle of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute.